Arguments Against Ethical Egoism

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Ethical egoism is a moral theory focused on improving a person’s well-being. There are many arguments for ethical egoism such as the Self-Reliance Argument and the Best Argument for Ethical Egoism, both presented by Shafer-Landau in The Fundamentals of Ethics. However, in this paper I will discuss how objections presented by Shafer-Landau and Dr. Thomas Carson are fatal to ethical egoism, while keeping in mind arguments for this moral theory. I will discuss objections such as ethical egoism permitting or sometimes requiring murder, theft, or rape, in order to promote oneself’s well-being, egoists subconscious belief of their lives being more important than others, and an argument presented in class that if egoists must do what is best for their…show more content…
This is discussed by Shafer-Landau in The Fundamentals of Ethics; he says that ethical egoism “arbitrarily makes my interests all-important” (114). If a person is required to do whatever is necessary to increase their well-being, then they must only act in their interests. Ethical egoism allows individuals to think that there is no one more important or as important as them. It supports the belief that egoists should only care for themselves, ignoring everyone else’s needs and wants. An ethical egoist will only do the things that are pleasurable for them and that increase their welfare. There are many problems with this view. An egoist may believe that they are unique, but so does another egoist across the street. An egoist in a different state as the other two believes they are unique as well, but so does an egoist living in a different country. All over the world there are egoists that believe they are special, but they are not. It is impossible for everyone to be unique. Sure, there are some qualities that distinguish one person from another, but no one is special. If one person thinks they are special, others hold this belief as well. Everyone cannot be unique. However, egoists tend to act on the basis of this rationale, and aim to increase only their own well-being. Therefore, other people’s interests must “count for nothing” (Shafer-Landau…show more content…
Thomas Carson. This objection states that while egoists may believe that everyone must act in such a way as to promote their self interest, similarly to the self reliance argument for ethical egoism, this may require them to hurt other egoists in process. Furthermore, promoting oneself’s well-being might require for the egoist to hurt themselves. If an egoist is suicidal, it would be considered moral for this egoist to take their own life. Ethical egoism would have no objections to suicide if the egoist is certain that they are better off dead. Nonetheless, we can all agree that suicide is a tragedy and there are ways to help those that struggle with suicidal thoughts. In an egoists voyage to improving only their own life, they might harm other egoists. Furthermore, since egoists are not required to help others, they are not required to help the fellow egoists either. This seems absurd, if all ethical egoists ended up hurting each other then how is the moral theory of ethical egoism a satisfactory moral theory at all?. A moral action to one egoist is an immoral action to another. By hurting other egoists or possibly oneself, egoists are faced with a fatal objection to their moral
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